More TL2 vs. D3 Coverage

A couple of new articles about Torchlight 2 invoke the inevitable comparisons to D3. Two good bits from this IGN piece, both quoting Max Schaefer:

He says, “Back in the day, when we would sell a $60-dollar box, by the time the money came back to us, it would be maybe $14 dollars a copy. And that’s what we get nowadays on Steam, selling a digital download version for $20. So from our perspective, we’re as viable and as profitable as an independent developer used to be selling $60 boxes. “We’re bypassing the publisher and box distribution and that lets us bring a $60 game to people for $20.

…Schaefer does offer a critique of the way Diablo III dealt with character development and skills customization. “Some of the criticism of Diablo III was about how there isn’t really a lot of differentiation between builds of a character, because they all unlock the same skills at the same time. There’s less of an opportunity to make a character that’s truly individual for you. I think that could have the possibility of reducing longevity, because once you’ve played through it with a character, there’s no particular reason to go through and try a different build.

Back in the day, yes. Now in the day, Blizzard sells millions of digital download for $60, and those are straight from their own servers; they don’t even have to share profits with Steam…

Elsewhere, a trolling piece from The Examiner compares TL2 to D3 and says that they both suck.

With a huge outpouring of merchandise and fan-dom for these two games one has to wonder, ‘What’s the big deal about hack and slash games?’.

The hack and slash genre has brought us mediocre story-lines, needless gore, and a lot or replay value. It’s no wonder why the original two “Diablo” games were so successful when the PC video game market was smaller and Blizzard was establishing its place at the top of the industry. Blizzard makes quality games that stand the test of time and has garnered them a very loyal fan base. So perhaps the hype over “Diablo III” was primarily due to nostalgia.

…The hack and slash genre doesn’t hold a candle to many other modern games when it comes to the fine points of story structure, immersion, combat systems etc. The genre is more about abnegation than innovative game-play or technology. Playing a few hours of “Diablo” is like turning on a reality TV show while you cook dinner. It’s something to help you de-stress and keep you vaguely occupied with little thought or skill.

I have to assume that some editor at The Examiner thought, “How can we troll some hate? I know, let’s assign someone who hasn’t played a second of D3 or TL2, and who hates ARPG games in general, to write a piece comparing them!” Stupid, and yet genius since it’s created a lot of links in, even if 99% of them are hate-driven.

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24 thoughts on “More TL2 vs. D3 Coverage

  1. $6 loss on steam vs $46 loss from selling a box.

    It’s kind of scary to think of all the jobs in the entertainment industry get cut by a switch to digital distribution. An awful lot of middle-men might be looking for new employment if this trend keeps up.

    • No jobs lost, just moving. Brick-and-mortar game retail is dying. You want a job? Become a server admin, support tech, software developer, or systems analyst.

      • PRAFTD beat me to it!

        Most of that $46 went towards disc manufacturing, packaging, shipping, inside sales, and the like. I actually don’t feel bad about this at all. It’s a pretty fair trade off for streamlining product delivery. And anyway, isn’t it a good thing that we’re no longer paying for cardboard boxes that get thrown out or tucked away somewhere, never to be of use again? Or that we don’t have another polycarbonate disc sitting around collecting dust? I’m pretty sure that the manufacturers of those components will be just fine. And, it’s worth noting, a very large percentage of that is done outside the U.S. or E.U. … just think about the reduction in carbon output that is saved from shipping alone.

        I think I may go hug a tree now (not my normal behavior, by any stretch of the imagination… this site has made me make the strangest arguments lately).

      • If that was true a digital download would cost the same as a boxed version. For a greedy company like blizz, this is true. Where I live the physical copy was cheaper then the digital download!

        I’m all for digital distribution, but it’s is much more effective and requires less work then traditional distribution. No middle men hurt? Jobs just moving? heh.

        • Goro was specifically referencing jobs being lost in the ‘entertainment industry’. Digital distribution will have little to no effect on the part of the industry he’s talking about, other than higher margins (which could possibly mean higher R&D budgets). Certainly it will affect other industries- shipping, packaging, physical production, etc.- but these are all much larger industries capable of absorbing those losses in business fairly easily. For example: the people who produce packaging and discs also produce packaging and discs for a vast array of products other than games . A production order for TL2 discs would be relatively small in comparison to the overall output of a disc manufacturer.

          (And before you say it: Yes, physical disc consumption is declining overall, but not by as much as most people like to imagine. Plus, the overwhelming majority of those jobs are outside of the U.S. or E.U. Trust me on this one: China will survive just fine. In case you haven’t noticed, they are a rather industrious nation, and have a history of retooling factories and adjusting to production demands extraordinarily quickly.)

          You can definitely argue that it will eventually hit the sales side (both retail and inside) pretty hard, but that is the nature of sales. Very few people in sales expect to be working in the same industry for great lengths of time. That wasn’t necessarily true twenty years ago, but it certainly is now. There are some notable exceptions- automotive is the first one that comes to mind- but even in that field things are starting to change much more rapidly than they have in the past. I think you would be hard pressed to find many young car salesmen who expect to be selling cars ten years from now.

      • Reducing cost is NEVER a bad thing. That kind of logic is the same used to describe a broken window as a good thing because they have to spend money…on that window instead of a nice game!

  2. I didn’t really disagree with The Examiner piece until I hit the abnegation line. What exactly are Diablo players rejecting? Reality in general? Couldn’t you just as easily make that argument about any video game, regardless of genre?

    Look, I agree that ARPGs in general are lagging behind a bit when it comes to things like story structure and immersion. There are genres that are definitely better suited to that. But, any game that manages to capture players for extended periods of time is going to lose much of that appeal eventually. By the 200th hour of Skyrim, can you honestly argue that there is much skill or thought involved? (That’s not a knock on Skyrim by the way… that game is brilliant.) How about CoD or MW? Yes, it takes some skill to hunt other players down, but even most elite players are basically on autopilot the vast majority of the time. Hell, even chess is the same once you develop your game to a certain point. I’m not in any way saying that these things are mindlessly simple, as he is suggesting that ARPGs are. Far from it. But there is a certain mindset that you settle into while playing any game that you enjoy. Voila! Abnegation of your day-to-day life.

    And even when the game is still fresh and new (and arguably even more so at that point), the fact that it is a bit of an escape from reality is kind of the point. We just each get to pick our own particular favorite flavor. Had a bad day? Escape into this convenient little world for an hour or two and hack apart some monsters/shoot some annoying bad guys/throw a touchdown or two/become a superhero/take over the world. That, in a nutshell, is the basic appeal of gaming. It’s hard to see how ARPGs are any different in this regard to any other type of game.

    The form of abnegation he seems to be complaining about is exactly the point of playing for most people. Maybe he just hates gaming in general. Maybe he just hasn’t realized the logical conclusion of his own argument. Or, most likely, he just wants hits and links any way he can get them.

    • “He” is a she, who is still a college student. Scroll to the bottom of the examiner piece for an author pic and bio.

      Some of her critiques aren’t baseless, but they’re a bit OT, since no one pretends that ARPGs are about storytelling. You could argue that there’s no point in even trying to storytell in most action games, such as FPS or ARPG or arcade type side scrollers, since they’re designed for replayability. No one needs a story about why PacMan is eating dots and running from ghosts. It’s just fun to do. Same as demon slaying and loot collecting in an ARPG.

      • You are correct, “He” is in fact a she. I did not scroll past the group of links after the story, and I missed the byline (in fairness- it is in light grey, and tacked on after the video header, which is in bright orange). My apologies to Ms. Brown. I can’t stand when people do that, yet I just did.

        Her bio actually says that she graduated with a degree in Anthropology from UC Boulder. I suppose she could still be a student, but I would think it would then identify her as a grad student, rather than a graduate. Anyway, we’re kind of splitting hairs on that one, and I’m not sure it makes much difference either way.

        As I said, in general I don’t necessarily disagree with quite a bit of what she wrote. It was really the use of the term ‘abnegation’ in that context that really got under my skin. In some respects she was ghettoizing ARPGs through a series of negative comparisons, and therefore relegating them to a slum of mindless entertainment with the likes of reality TV (that was her direct comparison). I still completely disagree with that view. I’m pretty sure that several of the folks who spend exorbitant amounts of their free time crunching numbers, building spreadsheets, etc., all in order to further refine their characters, would disagree as well. It just struck me as overly dismissive and a bit condescending.

        There were a few other things that stuck out as odd to me, but that I chose not to mention in the original post. For example, the assertion that TL2 owes its existence to the genre created by “Blizzard’s Diablo”. Now, in some ways that is completely true. But, at the same time, it sounds very strange considering that the core team at Runic is the same (minus one) as the core team that created Diablo (Blizzard North). Ms. Brown is clearly not much of a fan of the genre in general, however, so that seems a minor oversight.

        Just to be clear, I’m not knocking Ms. Brown, but rather her approach to the article and her logic concerning this topic. Maybe next time there is a major release in this particular genre, she should not be the first choice to write the review.

        Completely OT- Anyone else having trouble logging in tonight? I’ve tried at least ten times, but it keeps requiring me to enter my name and email each time I try to post. Hopefully this still shows as my post, but if not (and in case it’s not abundantly clear by the ridiculous length), I am TheThirdMan.

        • Hmm the genre that Diablo created umm nope Diablo didn’t create the genre it just refined and popularized it.

          As for the site the log in option gone here completely.

          • Just to clarify… her description, not my own.

            To be fair, I believe she originally used the word “established” in the piece, so I could have been a bit more clear in my word choice when paraphrasing there. I was trying to avoid a massive ‘cut & paste’ jumble, and the distinction got a little muddied in the shuffle.

            All in all, I was actually attempting to cut her a little slack with that example.

  3. Video games don’t need good story to be good games. All you need to be a good game is, you know, to be a fun game. (See: all games pre-video games)

    • Agreed.

      Sometimes you do want to escape into a richly detailed, fully realized world. Sometimes you just want to blow **** up. And sometimes checkers with the old man next door will do the trick.

      It’s all just a matter of preference, but when it comes down to it, you’re completely right: fun is fun.

  4. Can I say that playing ARPGs to de-stress after a difficult day at work/school is the single biggest reason I play them? May I also say that I think they’re the best genre for this purpose, and IMHO, that alone makes the genre great? I could play DII (not a typo) regularly for the next twenty years just for the mental health benefits alone. Somebody should really do a study on that.

  5. “Diablo” is like turning on a reality TV show while you cook dinner. It’s something to help you de-stress and keep you vaguely occupied with little thought or skill. << isn't this the role of games?

  6. In case you guys don’t know – uses the “Gawker model” where article writers are paid something like one cent per page view. It doesn’t incentivize anything other than amassing as many page views as possible, so outright trolling is a decent way to go about it, as you get people to visit your page and then froth at the mouth or whatever.

    No one “assigns” anything at the Examiner – pretty much anyone can submit an article so long as they agree to whatever paltry pay scale they get. So it was a lame ploy by someone to get something like $10 from the page views generated by ARPG fan rage. And that’s about it.

  7. Oh what an idiotic comment from that anti [email protected] basher…

    First: these are VIDEO games … Video games are played for fun.

    If I want to read a good story I buy me a book or rent a movie.

    If I want to smash mobs and fight (mini) bosses I play video games.

    We used to have Pac Man, Galaga, Gauntlet, etc …

    Now we play Diablo 3 – a very advanced version of Gauntlet.

    So what’s this man problem anyway.

    —- > Just as if all that garbage on Facebook is anything “immersive”…

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